Religion in the World and Russell’s Teapot

Lost Jack

I was recently doing research on religion in the world for a documentary I want to make.  I had some preconceived notions as to what I would find about the major religions and the number of followers they had.  I must admit some of it took me by surprise and some of it met expectations.

I wasn’t sure where I wanted to start out so I did a simple search of the “big three.”  Those being Christianity, Islam, and Judaism, and the first thing I found out was, Judaism wasn’t in the top three.  It wasn’t even in the top five!  It’s number nine if you include the following religions I’m about to below.

Christianity is the clear number one with around 2.1 billion followers.  Islam is not far behind with 1.8 billion.  Hinduism takes the third spot with 900 million followers of faith and then it gets very interesting.  When someone who does not believe in god or isn’t sure if there is a god, they tend to answer different to the same survey so it splinters the results.  However if you were to add agnostics and atheists together (and anyone else who is ‘non-religious’), they make up 1.1 billion of the world population.   That means around 14% of the world holds no faith in a higher being.

With the 14 million followers of Judaism, Chinese religions including Buddhism, the African religion of Bahá’í Faith, and Shintoism from Japan it makes up a hefty population.  There are over 7 billion people on the planet now and with all these numbers I’ve thrown at you, they don’t add up to make 7 billion.  The rest of the world is made up of folk type religions and ancient religions still held on to today, with a dash of Wicca, Satanism, and the dreaded Scientology.  There are approximately 50,000 druids alive today, and there are some people out there who still follow ancient Greek ideals.

So with all of that said, how can someone claim their god is the one god?  This isn’t to question anyone’s faith, if you have it and it makes you a good person then no problem, but how can so many people (I’d say almost four billion) claim their way is the correct and only way to go about life?  You can argue the majority of the world thinks there is a god of some kind, but the last four times the majority of this county voted on something, things didn’t go all that awesomely. (See: Bush, George W., See: Obama, Barack).

So why does the majority win?  Is it because there are more of them?  That’s a pretty poor reason for the world to move in such a way.  Again I’m not here to question your specific faith, but with nothing more than a series of books, how can 86% of the world’s population believe there is something to pray to?  This subject can get rather touchy and I’ve seen people get defensive the moment you question them, but isn’t that what people do when they know they are wrong?  Don’t we as humans have an inherent part of our brain that rejects being wrong?  No one likes to be wrong sure, and I have no proof to swing this one way or the other, but what is there that makes 86% of people look up when they win money, or have a child?

I’m getting close to only rambles at this point so I’ll leave the last part to a theory I read some years ago when I was beginning my path to where I am now.  It’s called Russell’s Teapot.  I’ll try to explain it in English if I can.  It comes from the burden of proof, the burden that when you believe in something, be prepared to be asked why or show your proof in that something.  Bertrand Russell went on to say that there is a teapot floating somewhere in space between our rock, and Mars.  It orbits the sun like every other planet, but it’s microscopic and blue, so you can only see it with a high tech magnified glass.  It’s there because I believe it is.

Prove to me it doesn’t exist and we’ll talk.

Do something good.

Matthew

3 thoughts on “Religion in the World and Russell’s Teapot

  1. Interesting read. However, i dont agree with your comment about people getting defensive because they know they’re wrong. I believe they get defensive because they are protecting what they believe in.

  2. Of course, all religions believe in their own version of Russell’s Teapot. It’s a by-product of cultural indoctrination (e.g. are there any Christians in Saudi Arabia?). One’s religion has to, by definition, be the only correct belief system because otherwise how could one believe in it. Psychologically, it’s like a security blanket. That’s why they defend it so passionately.

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